‘Atin Ito’ heads back; ‘Mission accomplished!’

‘Atin Ito’ heads back; ‘Mission accomplished!’
Atin Ito volunteer distributes food supplies to a Filipino fisherman in Bajo de Masinloc. —ATIN ITO PHOTO

ABOARD THE FB AGUIAN—With at least three Chinese Coast Guard ships threatening their main convoy of four fishing boats flying Philippine flags, “Atin Ito” leaders decided on Thursday not to pursue its final task of resupplying Filipino fishers at Bajo de Masinloc (also known as Scarborough Shoal and Panatag Shoal). 

The seeming premature end of the coalition’s mission, which aimed to assert Philippine sovereign rights in the West Philippine Sea, came at 8:25 a.m. Thursday, with Chinese vessels reportedly driving away the fishers as early as Wednesday night. 

But Atin Ito announced having outfoxed China’s forces: An advance team had already breached the Chinese blockade and reached the Filipino fishers to distribute fuel and food supplies.

The 10-member advance team composed of representatives of the Akbayan Party, Pambansang Katipunan ng mga Samahan sa Kanayunan, and Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement reached within 25-30 nautical miles of the general vicinity of Bajo de Masinloc on May 15. 

“They swiftly delivered crucial provisions, including fuel and food, to Filipino fishers working in the area,” Atin Ito said in a statement, adding that some 1,000 liters of diesel and 200 food packs were distributed despite a Chinese Navy ship with body number 175 constantly shadowing them. 

“This feat mirrors the success of last December’s inaugural civilian mission, where Atin Ito’s smaller supply boat, the ML Chowee, navigated past Chinese vessel harassment near Ayungin Shoal to deliver supplies to frontline workers on Lawak Island,” the coalition said.

Rafaela David, Atin Ito coconvener and Akbayan president, said that “despite China’s massive blockade, we managed to breach their illegal blockade, reaching Bajo de Masinloc to support our fishers with essential supplies. Mission accomplished!” 

David said the success of the civilian mission “stands as a testament to the ingenuity, resourcefulness and bravery of the Filipino spirit amidst formidable challenges.” She added: “China may possess larger and more vessels, and wield strong water cannons, but we possess a secret weapon: our ‘diskarteng Pinoy,’ which, when coupled with determination and love for fellow citizens and country, can surmount even the most daunting adversity.” 

Despite the presence of the Philippine Coast Guard’s BRP Bagacay, the Atin Ito boats on Thursday were bent on reaching the shoal 50 nautical miles away from a 6 a.m. stopover to harvest fish from a Filipino-installed payaw or artificial reef.

The boats will distribute their remaining fuel and food supplies to Filipino fishers who were informed of this arrangement before heading to Subic, Zambales, in the afternoon, arriving there on Friday.

Read more: ‘Atin Ito’ sets new mission to Scarborough Shoal to assert Filipinos’ fishing rights

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